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Context Dependent Neural Control of Gaze Shifts

Smalianchuk, Ivan (2022) Context Dependent Neural Control of Gaze Shifts. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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We explore our environment by looking at objects of interest. In order to precisely direct our visual axis where we intend, we must generate a series of movements with our eyes and head, which shift our gaze to the desired location. A number of neural structures provide control for such behavior, each acting as a unique contributor to either higher- or lower-level movement properties of the action. Some structures, such as the superior colliculus (SC), influence the metrics and kinematics of gaze shifts, e.g., controlling the direction, amplitude, and velocity of a saccade. Others, like the ventral premotor cortex (PMv), monitor the context of the movement, presumably differentiating whether the gaze shift was made to search for food or to locate a threat. Here, we aim to present an overarching view of these neural systems by exploring both the kinematics and context of gaze shifts.
Systematic manipulation of the visual environment was used to explore neural and behavioral features underlying gaze shifts. In the first study, we instructed the subjects to generate saccades to targets on the screen while we recorded single cell spiking activity from the SC. We then utilized statistical techniques to determine instantaneous SC control over saccade velocity. In the second study we recorded from the PMv and instructed the subject to perform gaze shifts that either preceded or followed a head movement. We aimed to establish context-dependent PMv activity modulation. In the last study we explored the ability of the systems to adapt to a predetermined environmental change. We aimed to induce a context (color) dependent saccadic adaptation. In tandem, these studies explore the span of neural control of gaze shifts ranging from low-level kinematics control to high-level context dependency.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGandhi,
Committee MemberBatista,
Committee MemberGharbawie,
Committee MemberSmith,
Date: 10 June 2022
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 13 January 2022
Approval Date: 10 June 2022
Submission Date: 11 March 2022
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 139
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Bioengineering
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Primate, population dynamics, motor control
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2022 18:21
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2022 18:21

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